The Dragon of Change

I blame fate for my mess of a life. It all started when I was semi-normal. My name is Mark. I'm seventeen. If you ask why, here's what happened to make my life screwy:

It started in winter. I was staring up at a constellation when this colorful explosion bloomed in the night sky. From it came a shooting star. I watched it for a few seconds when I noticed it growing larger and larger. It seemed to be coming towards me at an alarming rate. Still larger it grew while shooting sparks behind it. It had started to roar with fire. Suddenly, when it was at least a mile away, it plunged into the earth, sending waves of flame in all directions for about a hundred yards. The force of the crash knocked me off my feet to the snowy earth. I may have blacked out for a few second before getting up. The world seemed to spin and tilt sending me off balance. I thought of the possibilities of what might await in the crater of the fallen star. Maybe a valuable rock or maybe some sort of alien from another planet. It could have burned to nothing, but the mystery made me anxious to find out. I pushed myself off the ground and walked over to the crater.

The crater of the star was huge! About thirty feet across and the snow around it was melted. In the center was an oval-shaped rock. I walked down to the rock. The rock was steaming like it was hot, but when I picked it up it was perfectly cool. The stone was unlike any other. It was about five pounds, which was pretty light for a rock even a space rock. I suspected that it was hollow, but there was not a mark on strange stone. It was the darkest of black, but it had specs of white that were dotted all over it. The rock was maybe a foot and a half long and half a foot tall. It was like an oversized egg. It probably has a great value since it's so beautiful, I thought. I decided to bring it home. My home is a small farm a little ways out from Miltage, probably the smallest town you'll ever see. It has all the necessities you'll ever need, but hardly anything interesting. Our farm is one of the six that provides for the whole town. If you expect to find acres of farm land, you had better go to the Chalp's farm, the biggest Miltage has. The farm we have has only three acres two of which is crops. We had horses to pull our wagon, but we never raised animals for meat. The rest is a building that serves a our home. It was originally a barn, but we made a house from what supporters brought us. When I returned home it was past midnight. Dad was asleep on the couch, but it wasn't normal for him to fall asleep there. That's when I noticed the stone glowing in my arms. Weird. The stone was increasing in heat making my arms burn. I ran to my room and deposited my stone on the dirt floor. The stone continued to glow brighter. Then I heard tapping coming from the stone. Finally the glowing stopped along with the tapping. I reached down to pick it up but it was searing hot. I was to exhausted to worry about the stone right now so I collapsed on my bed and fell asleep as soon as my eyes closed.

The next morning I awoke with my dad calling me to breakfast. I rolled out of my bed to find the stone shattered and the entire room smelled like smoke. I looked around the room to see what had caused my stone to shatter. I was about to assume it was my eleven-year-old brother, Logan when my eyes came to a scaly black creature with white around it's closed eyes curled around my bed post. My body then moved against my will and touched the... thing. As soon as my fingers touched it's scales my hand burned like it had been set on fire. I looked at it and saw a symbol was etching itself into my palm. I had seen this symbol before. The symbol looked like an eye with teeth. After minutes of burning pain my hand went numb and the etching stopped. My dad was calling,"C'mon Mark! Your breakfast is getting cold!" I got up shaking. The creature had awoken and was staring at me with pure black eyes. I finally turned around and walked out the door. At breakfast Logan was talking non-stop about his dreams. "And then this huge bat came and ate our house!" It went on until I said,"Dad. Can you please give me some wood? I want to build something." I had decided on keeping the creature in a little home of it's own, but inside the house. Dad said,"Sure! What are ya going to make?" I feared this question because Dad hated pets. "A toy box,"I lied,"A large one." I hated lying. Most the time it didn't work and I get into trouble, but this time he took the bait. "Okay. I'll give you the materiel around noon,"Dad said. Yesssss, I thought, My day of owning a pet is finally here!

Later in my room I was feeding the creature some food I had secretly nicked from the kitchen. The creature had little sharp teeth it used to rip things apart. I learned the hard way that it tore stuff apart by finding my pillow in bits of cotton fabric and sheep wool. The creature loved the leftover turkey. After it was satisfied it nuzzled my burned hand. I thought it was going to burn me again and jerked away when it touched me, but it didn't hurt me. Now that the creature wasn't curled up I saw that it had a long tail with a kite-shaped point at the end and four strong looking legs. The creature had little horns down it's back, but had a gap where the neck connected. It was about a foot long. On it's back were two leathery wings each about three time it's body. I was waiting for noon. About ten more minutes, I thought and strangely got a reply. Until what? I looked around, but saw no one. A little worried I called,"Who's there?" No answer. Again I called,"Who's there?" Again no answer. "I guess I heard it in my head," I muttered. This time I got an answer. No you didn't. I'm talking you. You are my master. I likes you. This time I knew who was talking. And the creature wasn't an ordinary creature It was a Dragon.

After Dad called me down and gave me the supplies I returned to my room and set to work. Just after I was half way done my dragon asked me,"What are you building?" I answered,"A dragon hut for you."

"But Dragons don't live in huts."

"Well you do," I said.

"Huts bad."

Now the dragon was a little annoying, but I couldn't get rid of it. The dragon himself (It's a male.) told me we were bonded together for life. But right now I was a little ticked by his complaints about the hut. "Well then what do you want to live in," I asked.

His metallic voice came a little hesitantly. "Me want cave. Stone cave. Or with you." I was a little bit shocked when he said that last part. I answered,"Well for now you get the hut. Then later we can get you a cave."

"But me want to live with you."

This dragon changed his mind to often. "Okay. Here is the plan. You can live in the hut with me. That sound good,"I asked.

"Sound good to me,"he answered. Desperate to change the subject, I said,"So...what is your name?" He answered,"Me no know. What my name?" I thought about it, then said,"How about Raneck?" The dragon shook his head. "Caliver?" Again he shook his head. I rolled off about twenty names until finally, "Nightmare?" The dragon nodded this time. I sighed with relief. Now the dragon asked a question. "What your name?" I answered,"Mark Delno. I work to feed others." I was starting to like this dragon. We soon finished the hut in silence.

In the next few days Nightmare grew about three times his original size. I made the box big enough to last a couple of weeks. Now it was more like one week. Nightmare also ate more than me even though he was half as I was. Now that he was bigger I realized the gap was for sitting in, but it wasn't big enough yet. The horns were pure white and as big as my thumb. He wasn't strong enough to hold me and he was getting to big to hide inside. Soon I'd have to build a new home outside. As soon as I mentioned the idea he started crying. I calmed him down by promising him extra scraps at lunch today. The mark on my hand was easy to hide by wrapping it in a rag. If they found out I'd say it was a burn and they'd probably believe me. They were starting to wonder about the food disappearing, but I kept my mouth shut.

After lunch when I went to my room with a plate of scraps for the fourth time in a row, Logan started to catch on to what I was doing. He tattles on my for all most everything important or not so I wasn't surprised when he said,"Dad! Mark is going to his room to feed his pet rat!" Dad immediately turned towards me. He gave that prying look of his and asked,"Mark? What's this talk of rats about?" I quickly searched for a story to tell him. I came up with this: "Okay I just want to eat in my room. Why? I want to get away from Logan."

I'm guessing he took the bait a different way. He said,"Okay okay. I'll tell Logan to be more quiet during meals. Today though you may eat you lunch in your room for only today and today only. Got it?" I said I did and went to my room a little displeased. My plan had failed. Nightmare was happy I had brought extras. When he asked why I told him,"I promised I would. I don't break my promises." The dragon had started sending emotions to me so I wasn't surprised when he sent a happiness emotion. The dragon was still a little childish, but he learned fast he practically ate the knowledge. The time we spent was a little suspicious, but my dad thought I probably needed time away from Logan now. The problem was keeping Nightmare a secret.

The next day way our annual town trip. When I told Nightmare of this he said,"I come with you." I said,"No Nightmare. You can't come. My dad will skin us both if he saw you. How about you play by yourself outside until we get home."

"No! I come with you!"

"I said no you can't. Please listen."

"I come-" What ever he was going to say was cut of by my dad calling to me to hurry up. I opened the window and told Nightmare,"Look. I'm sorry you can't come, but you can't be seen by my father. He'll kill you." I didn't wait for his response before I slipped out the door. Nightmare jumped out the window and flapped his wings the best he could, but he wasn't strong enough to do more than hover or glide. All he needed was to get to the wagon and get to Mark.

As Mark got in the wagon he heard a flapping noise. He knew from who and what it came from. He pretended not to notice to get Nightmare's hopes up. As they rode into Miltage around noon. Their father discussed the plan amongst themselves. "Okay so Logan and Mark. You can go to the tannery and pick up two hides of leather. Here's the money for that. I'll sell the wares in the market place and meet you at the Miltage weaponry in half an hour." After that they dispersed to go to do their jobs. As they walked away mark thought,Why does dad need to go to the weaponry?

Nightmare on the other hand had just reached the town when he saw Mark disappear into the tannery. Meanwhile Mark had trouble getting two hides. "What do you mean you won't sell us leather? We have enough money with us,"Mark asked. The tanner, Jarred, said,"We have none. I sold the last of 'em abou' ten minutes ago."

"I see some perfectly good leather right over there? Why can't I buy some of that?"

"'cause it ain't leather."

"Then what is it?"

"Stuff you can't buy it 'cause I ain't sellin' it to you."

"Well I'm buying it."

Jarred look a little angry."You're a stubborn brat. How 'bout twenty Dirai," he sneered. Dirai was the currency of Bournt, which was our country. Jarred probably thought a poor family like mine couldn't buy something for that price, but he's wrong. I said"Okay here's your money Jarred." I handed him forty Dirai. He look shocked to receive the money because he just stood there holding our money. Then, after maybe five minutes, he snapped out of his shock and said,"I guess a deal's a deal." Then he removed the leather from their hooks and handed them to us. We thanked him and hurried out of his shop before he changed his mind. As soon as I stepped out I tripped on a long black rope. I felt like a fool and hurried to get up. Logan stepped out of the shop the second I was standing with the leather. I turned to whoever tripped me and found myself face-to-face with a black dragon six feet tall. "Nightmare! Your not supposed to be out in the open! Go home," I whispered. Logan looked at the dragon in disbelief. Finally he said,"Mark? Do you know what this thing is?" I came clean on him as long as he promised not to tell or I'd tell dad about his secret food stash in the attic. He promised. Together we walked over to a clump of bushes near the weaponry. When Nightmare finally agreed to hide in the bushes we were already late. Inside was hot from the forge in the corner. Dad was talking to the weaponer about his needed equipment. When they saw us they stopped talking. Dad walked over and asked us how it went. We told him it wasn't that great because of the tanner's stubbornness. We told him the price and he flipped. "Crap! We needed that money for meat. The more the better." The weapons masters's deep voice boomed out,"Mr. Delno. Back to business. You said you needed a long one. Was correct?" Dad said,"What? Oh yes! Yes that is correct." The weapons master nodded to us slowly before reaching behind him and handing dad a bundle of clothe. Dad turned back to us. "Do you know why Jarred would be unwilling to sell this to you," he asked. I had a hunch about it, but I kept it to myself. "No. He just seemed reluctant to hand it over to us. Maybe it's been reserved by this really rich guy. Maybe the king himself," I said. Dad shook his head. "If the king was here we would have been told of his presence." Dad was looking pretty serious about this. I said,"Maybe he-" Dad interrupted me,"Stop. We need to get home. I see a snow storm coming." Sure enough about two miles away was a white cloud swiftly approaching. "Nightmare! Go home now! A storm is coming! I don't want you to be caught in it," I told him. "I go only with you,"he answered. Great, I thought, Now my dragon is going to get lost in the storm's winds. My family rushed towards our wagon and got in. The horse's were acting weird. My dad had to whip them four times before they set out for the farm. By then the storm had time to get closer. It was about a mile away now. The winds were kicking up now. Nightmare was flying over head. He had trouble flying while being buffeted by the winds. Since he could barely fly he had to constantly had to land then take off again every five minutes. The wind was really blowing now. Nightmare landed for his own safety and started running after us from a distance which was hard for a dragon. Just as the farm came into view the storm hit us with major winds that lifted our wagon off the ground. Nightmare took of to try and save me, but as he lifted off the ground the wind the wind carried him out of view. "Nightmare,"I yelled. Dad looked at me funny. "What are you talking about,"he asked. "I...I had a nightmare about this happening,"I lied. I still felt bad lying to him, but I still had to keep him a secret. Suddenly the wind snatched Logan right out of the wagon. His screaming quickly faded. Before I had time to call out to him the wind took Dad, too. "Mark,"he yelled and then he was gone. The wind started to rip the wagon apart. My adrenaline made me jump over the side and let the wind carry me off. My last thoughts before blacking out were wondering if I'd survive this so I could see my family again.

I awoke when I felt my body be carried off. I remember slamming into solid ground before blacking out again. I heard whispering about how I got here. I tried to tell them I was carried off by the wind from the storm, but I could only moan. When I opened my eyes I didn't recognized anything so I just blacked out again. When I woke up for good I opened my eyes. What I saw was a little strange. I was laying on a blanket on the floor. The room had a leather couch and some sort of screen. The floor I was lying on wasn't dirt, but wood. This must be some rich person's house, I thought. Most people except rich people have dirt floors like me. I tried to sit up, but someone held me back. "Careful now,"an unfamiliar voice said,"Let me help." It was a female's voice. A warm hand came underneath my back and pushed. I sat up with it. My throat was dry. "What's your name,"the female asked, "I'm Keshira." I tried to answer, but it came out like,"Uh-nuh." It was hard to talk with a dry throat. "Oh! Your throat must be dry. I'll get you a glass of water," said Keshira. She hurried from the room. A few seconds later I heard the creak of wood, then the sound of rushing water. Keshira walked into the room with a glass cup full of water. She handed it to me and told me to drink then answer her question. After a long drink from the glass cup I said,"My name is Mark Delno. I'm a farmer of Miltage." Keshira said,"Nice to meet you Mark, but there is no such place as Miltage." This information confused me. "If this place isn't Miltage, then were are we," I asked. Keshira said,"The United States of America. Our state's name is Oregon. The town's name is Salem, which is the capital of Oregon. Now my turn to ask. Why are you dressed in leather? And how did you get here." I said,"A snow storm carried me here. And leather clothing is the only type of clothing available to farmers like me." Keshira pondered this information for awhile before she asked," Where's your family? I only found you." Tears welled in my eyes. Keshira must have saw them because she said," Oh I'm so sorry! Unfortunately I know exactly how you feel. My mom divorced right after I was born, then my father died from cancer when I was seven years old. How about you watch some TV." I had no idea what TV was. I just stared at her confused. She saw my confused look and said,"You don't know what a TV is?" I said,"I'm sorry, but no. I have no clue what a TV is." Now she was the confused one. She said,"A TV is a screen that shows a video." I still had no idea what a TV was. "What does a TV look like,"I asked. She pointed to the screen that I realized was making noise. I stood up and immediately felt dizzy and fell over. Keshira rushed over and helped me up. After I was on my feet she asked,"Are you alright?" I said,"I'm fine." I took a step forward and almost fell again, but Keshira caught me before I could crumple to the floor. When I reached the couch, Keshira helped me sit down. I watched the man who was talking on the screen. It was the weirdest things I've ever seen. It was if the man was sitting in the room. As I listened I realized he was talking about weather. "...but with some clouds. The perfect weather for surfing." I asked Keshira,"What's surfing?" She looked at me and laughed. "Surfing is sport. You stand on a board in the water and the waves push you towards the shore, but in Salem you can't surf," she said,"There's no water for hours except underground." This I didn't understand. "Then how did you get this water,"I asked while holding up the glass. She answered almost immediately. "We have wells that pump water into our homes," she said. "Impossible! Wells don't pump water into houses. And I see no well here," he said. Keshira said,"Wells have been around for hundreds of years, but they have been able to pump water for maybe fifty years. Longer than I've been alive. If you've never heard of a well that could pump water then you may have come from the past." The past. Oh no, I thought, Nightmare's probably dead by now unless... An idea came instantly to my mind. "Did you find a my dragon? He might have come with me. He's valuable to me," I said. Keshira looked sad. "I'm sorry. I didn't find anyone other then you." Tears started to well in my eyes. "So you didn't find my family," I asked. Keshira looked like me. Sad and hopeless. "No. No one appeared out of the sky like you did. I thought you were some sort of spirit cast down to earth or something. I lost my family, too so I know how you feel. But there may be a place where we can find your dragon," she said. Hope flared inside of me. "Where!?" A smile crept onto Keshira's face. She said,"The Pound." After asking Keshira what the 'Pound' was I found out it was the place they kept stray animals and to get an animal you must pay a fee. After I learned of the fee I said,"So I'll pay them all my Dirai and they will give me Nightmare back, right?" Keshira said,"Dirai were used about a thousand years ago. Today we use Dollars, but don't worry. I'll pay the fee." The last part gave me relief. I said," I need to get there immediately." Keshira looked at me funny. "Are you crazy? It's...,"she paused to look at her bracelet,"almost three in the morning." I turned to the window. I saw light, but it was coming from below like someone had caught the town on fire. Horror started to twist my innards. "Keshira! Look outside! It's on fire!" She laughed which crept me out even more. "It's just the lamps on the street. Now go to sleep. I'm tired," she said while stifling a yawn. I let my body fall to the blanket, but before my head hit the ground I was asleep.

When I awoke I saw I was still in Keshira's house. I forced my body to sit up, but as soon as I moved my body screamed in pain.